For years, options when it comes to popcorn have been pretty limited: plain, buttered, or maybe kettle corn or white cheddar if you’re feeling adventurous. But now, chefs and foodies are giving this versatile snack its own chance in the spotlight, adding everything from bacon and caramel to truffle oil or cilantro to this party-friendly workhorse. And, as the all-knowing Olivia Pope has taught us, popcorn and wine make for a perfect in-front-of-the-TV dinner (whether you’re watching Scandal or Thursday Night Football or, as we often do, a little of both). Here, we rounded up five ways to make your next batch of homemade popcorn truly memorable. We’ll leave the wine up to you.


US-FOOD-ENVIRONMENT-ASIA-SAUCE-FILES1. Sriracha-Honey Popcorn Clusters
From The Kitchn Cookbook

Pop ½ cup corn kernels over medium heat and transfer to a large, heatproof bowl. Melt ¾ cup unsalted butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add ¾ cup honey and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly as the mixture foams. Remove the pan from the heat. Add Sriracha (2 tablespoons for mild; 3 tablespoons for spicy), 1 tsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and ¼ tsp baking soda to the pan of honey-butter sauce. Stir to combine; the Sriracha-honey syrup will bubble and foam. Pour the hot syrup over the popcorn immediately, stirring the popcorn as you slowly pour.


stock_honey2. Honey Corn
From Kelsey Nixon

Line two baking sheets with foil and divide 1 cup popcorn kernels, popped, and 1 ½ cups roasted salted peanuts evenly onto each. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, combine 4 cups sugar, 1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1 cup honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Gently boil the mixture until it reaches the soft-ball stage, measuring about 234 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove the pot from the heat and, while stirring constantly, add 1 tsp baking soda. Pour the sugar mixture evenly over the sheets of popcorn and mix well with large spoons. Let cool slightly and enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Crumbled-Bacon-23. Caramel Bacon Popcorn
From Chef Paul Turano

In heavy pan, boil 2 cups brown sugar, ½ pound butter, and 1 tsp salt to 234-238 degrees. Remove from heat. Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp ground juniper, ½ tsp ground clove, 1/8 tsp ground allspice, and 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes. Stir in 12 slices of rendered bacon, crumbled, and pour over popcorn. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes.


LemonZest4. Lemon and Cilantro Popcorn
From Chef Shehu Fitzgerald

Pop ½ cup popcorn kernels. Add 2 Tbsp of butter to a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds; then stir in popcorn. Combine ½ tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp chopped cilantro, ¼ tsp Chef Shehu’s Spice Blend #49, and salt to taste. Toss with popcorn and serve immediately.


103b-20005. Truffle Popcorn
From Chef Judy Joo

Mix popped corn with 3 Tbsp vegetable or corn oil, fine salt to taste (try Italian Truffle Salt from The Spice Lab), and truffle oil—the best you can afford.


ALY WALANSKY is a Brooklyn-based travel and food writer. She always appreciates an athletic man rocking his uniform.